Some people believe that human nature is inclined to choose the easy way out, and this applies to work as well. Whether it’s the older generation of parents or the current generation, most people think that studying hard, pursuing a degree, and working in an office job are the ideal choices. However, there are some individuals who choose to “take on the difficult and let go of the easy”, opting for high-risk and highly challenging jobs such as stunt performers.
One of these “brave girls who are willing to die” is Hong Kong stunt performer Suki Wong. With a passion for martial arts since her school days, Suki joined the ranks of top-level and highly challenging stunt performers, and has now been in the industry for seven years.
From Dancer to Stunt Performer: No Regrets
I first met Suki when I participated in a summer dance performance that she choreographed more than 10 years ago. From then until now, I still think Suki is a stylish, confident, and beautiful person. So I was curious and asked her why, with her height and looks, she didn’t choose to work in front of the camera, such as being an actress or a model.
Suki replied that she wouldn’t choose a job based on her own advantages, but rather ask herself what kind of work she truly wants to do.
In fact, Suki had a strong interest in martial arts since middle school, such as karate and taekwondo. However, she listened to her mother’s advice to try dancing first and learned Chinese dance. She enjoyed dancing and worked hard to become a dancer. She taught dance classes and even performed at the Hong Kong Coliseum. It was during her time as a dancer at Ocean Park that she met a group of stunt performer friends at an event, which unexpectedly became her entry into the industry. She gratefully shared that everything seemed destined to happen, and without dancing, she wouldn’t be who she is today.
“So if you ask me if I regret being a dancer instead of an actress or a stunt performer at the beginning? I don’t.” Suki’s tone was very firm, conveying her respect for her work and affirmation of her choices. Whether it’s dancing or performing stunts, she believes that both have brought her many happy and meaningful memories.
How to make Stunt Performing seems like ”Dangerous ”
Stunt performing is all about achieving what others cannot. Behind the heart-stopping action scenes in movies are complete safety measures, guidelines, and experienced stunt coordinators who ensure that stunt performers complete their stunts safely.
As an outsider, it’s natural to wonder, “Isn’t it dangerous?” Despite the presence of safety measures and coordinators, I couldn’t help but ask Suki Wong, a Hong Kong stunt performer, a question that many people ask: “Aren’t you scared?”
“What you consider dangerous is our job,” Suki replied. She believes that if the stunt coordinator arranges a set of stunts, it means that he believes that you can do it. She simply doesn’t think about what she cannot do.
If you hesitate, we know you’re expecting to get hit
Suki recalled her most memorable stunt performance, where she was a stunt double for the lead actress in a movie. She had to walk slowly down a staircase on a slope simulating a hill, hugging a prop BB and smiling while facing away from the CG car that would hit her. After about two and a half seconds, the CG car would hit her and send her flying. The difficulty of this scene was that she knew the car would hit her, but she could not predict when it would happen. She couldn’t hesitate or step back and had to manage her facial expressions and maintain a smile. The mental strength required for this stunt was immense.
Suki shared that she didn’t think about the danger at that moment. She just focused on maintaining her smile and walking down the stairs. After being hit by the car and flying away with the BB prop, everyone on set applauded her performance. The director even praised her for completing the stunt in one take. Suki was proud of her achievement, feeling a sense of accomplishment beyond just performing well.
Female Stunt Performer You Can Count On Easily
In the film industry, men have traditionally dominated the field of stunt performing. In the past, there were often not enough female stunt performers available, leading to the use of smaller male stunt doubles for female roles. However, female stunt performers are better suited to perform stunts for female actors due to their body type and posture, resulting in a more seamless and effective performance.
Unfortunately, in Hong Kong, there are only a handful of female stunt performers, making it a limited field for women to develop their skills. The high cost of producing action films compared to dramas means that opportunities for stunt performing are limited, and scenes requiring female stunt performers are often fewer in number than those requiring male performers.
On a positive note, the international market has seen an increase in action films featuring female leads, such as those produced by Marvel and DC. This provides a great opportunity for female stunt performers to showcase their skills and try new things. Suki, for example, had the chance to work on a Netflix film in the UK and meet other stunt performers who had worked on Marvel and DC films.
Suki hopes that there will be more opportunities for female stunt performers in Hong Kong in the future. Despite the limitations, she remains passionate about her craft and encourages more women to consider pursuing careers in stunt performing.
Being positive doesn’t mean being happy all the time
Having the ability to pick oneself up in life is both a skill and a wisdom. Although the work of a stunt performer may not be widely understood, and may not provide a stable income, SUKI still loves being a stunt performer. After seven years in the industry, she has gained a sense of mission. “I want to contribute to this industry and hope that the stunt performing industry in Hong Kong can flourish, and that more people can become familiar with it. I hope that our new generation can bring Hong Kong stunt performing back to its glorious days,” she said.
SUKI has not been defeated by the challenges of being a stunt performer. Since entering the industry, the training and acting classes she has taken have helped her to better understand herself, care more about her emotions and physical well-being, and become a stronger and more mature person. She has experienced low points in both her career and personal life, but didn’t want to burden her friends and family with negative emotions. Over time, this led her to build up a wall around her softer side. However, participating in acting classes last year helped her open up and face her emotions, and she learned more effective ways of dealing with them. When faced with challenges, SUKI tells herself, “Attitude determines altitude.”
“Being positive doesn’t mean being happy all the time.” This is a message SUKI wants to give to BBOLD readers. Having a positive attitude doesn’t mean you have to be happy 24/7. It’s okay to feel disappointed or down sometimes, but with a positive attitude, you can recognize that every obstacle, difficulty, or setback happens for a reason. When you overcome it and finish the experience, you will grow and learn something valuable, like taking a life lesson.
If you’re interested in joining the action stunt industry or learning more about the training, you can also reach out to “Stuntman Action Training Centre,” where SUKI practices daily and where professional action instructors with over 20 years of experience in the action martial arts industry can customize training courses for you. They have trained countless actors and actresses for movies, television, and performances, and can equip you to become a fearless stunt performer like SUKI.
Special Thanks: Stuntman Action Training Centre,
Photo & Data Source: IG@SUKI_SUSUKIcat